Information about Dementia and where to get help if you are newly diagnosed
This section contains the following information on dementia:
- What is dementia?
- Who Gets Dementia and Why?
- Common Symptoms
- What help is available?
- Help from the Dementia Advisors Service
- Help from Health Services
- Help from Social Services
- Help from Carers Support Organisations
- Help with Pensions and Employment
- Help with Legal Issues
- Help with your own emotions
- Related Information
The term 'dementia' is used to describe symptoms that are brought about by illnesses that affect the brain.
Dementia is not a disease, although symptoms such as memory loss, mood swings, general confusion and changes in personality may accompany certain diseases or conditions that affect the brain. These include Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and Parkinson's disease.
It is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse. But how fast dementia progresses will depend on the individual; each person is different and will experience dementia in their own way.
Dementia usually affects people over 60 years of age, although it can develop in younger people too. However, it is important to remember that dementia is not a typical result of growing old and that the majority of older people do not develop the condition.
Approximately 850,000 people in the UK live with dementia.
No single factor has been identified as a cause for dementia. It is likely that a combination of age, genetic inheritance, environmental factors, diet and general health conditions are responsible.
The biggest risk factor for dementia is age – the older you are the more likely you are to develop the condition, but it is not an inevitable part of ageing. About two in 100 people aged 65 to 69 years have dementia, and this figure rises to one in five for those aged 85 to 89.
If you are worried about yourself or a relative make an appointment to seeyour GP practice. The GP practice can find out if there are any reasons for your symptoms, and they may refer you or your relative to see a specialist.
Common symptoms of dementia include:
- Loss of memory – for example, forgetting the way home from the shops, or being unable to remember names and places, or what happened earlier the same day
- Mood changes – parts of the brain that control emotion can be affected by dementia. People with dementia may also feel sad, frightened or angry about what is happening to them
- Communication problems – a decline in the ability to talk, read and write
- Difficulty with every-day tasks
- Loss of logic and ability to reason or use initiative
- Disorientation in time and place.
In the later stages of dementia, the person affected may become increasingly dependent on other people. It is important to remember that every person with dementia is different and so their experiences will not be the same.
The earlier a person gets a diagnosis the sooner they and their families can come to terms with the situation, make plans for the future, and access services that can help them.
Dementia can only be diagnosed by ruling out other possible causes of the symptoms, so a full medical assessment is important. There are treatments for dementia available which may help slow down the progression of the symptoms, but they are not suitable for everyone.
A range of support options are available to help people living with dementia and their carers.
Information is available form local Alzheimer's Organisations like Alzheimers Support Wiltshire on their page, "Worried about your Memory?"
The Wiltshire dementia strategy sets out how Wiltshire Council and NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group will work together to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers and families, and we hope that you will support and join us in this challenge.
The dementia advisor service is available to people affected by dementia and provides information, guidance and advice on a variety of dementia related topics. The dementia advisors can help to develop a care plan and formulate how this will be met. They can also provide advice and guidance on local services, ensuring people living with dementia can make informed decisions about the care and support they receive.
Contact Alzheimer’s Support Wiltshire on 01225 776481
Health services that care for people with dementia include GPs, old age psychiatrists, mental health nurses, community nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
Social services can arrange a community care assessment for people with dementia to assess the specific needs they have and discuss how these may be met. Social Care Services that advise and support people with dementia include Customer Advisors, Customer Co-ordinators, Social Workers, and Occupational Therapists. Care Workers in the community and in residential care settings are trained to deliver person-centred care.
The Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Support Wiltshire can provide a range of support to people with dementia and their carers. Other support organisations include Age UK and Carers Support Wiltshire.
The Pensions Service and Citizens Advice Bureau can advise people with dementia and their carers on employment legislation, social security benefits and housing rights.
The Office of the Public Guardian can advise people with dementia to appoint people to manage their property or investments.
Living with dementia and caring for someone with the condition can be difficult and emotional. Do speak to your doctor and local support organisations to find out what services are available to you.
Improving Access to Psychological therapies (IAPT) can help you work through stress, anxiety and low mood.